Sunday, April 05, 2009

How I Could Have Been Damaged

When I was growing up, before a good part of the protective bubble that envelops nearly every American kid, there were a number of ways I could have been damaged (and was, in some cases!)

I had a toy called the SST - it consisted of a little vehicle that was revved up by pulling a plastic rip cord through a central wheel, and then letting it go down the street.  If you didn't position your hand holding the vehicle just right, you could get a nasty friction burn between your thumb and forefinger.

My Stingray, the bike of choice then, had to be redesigned in the following years after my model.  It featured a gear shift on the center bar.  Apparently it was in just the wrong position if a boy should slip forward and end up straddling the gear shift.  Happily, that never happened to me!

Most kids at the time played with gunpowder - in the form of cap guns - and the rolls of ammunition, which consisted of  bits of gunpowder encased in  little paper bubbles  The roll would be fed through a cap gun, which would set each off with a loud bang and a puff of smoke.  Of course, after a while, we just took the rolls of ammunition, set them down on the curb, and just set them off  by pounding rocks on them.  All we wanted was the boom.  It's a good thing it didn't occur to us to perform a little surgery and collect all the little drops of gunpowder into something more potent.

Of course, it wasn't always the toy that was dangerous.  At one time, I attempted to take apart an old radio - while it was plugged into the wall (actually, it was plugged into the side of the house outside, where I could go about my mischief undisturbed).   As a result, I remember precisely where I was when I learned, with a jolt, about the dangers of electrocution.  Some years later in junior, not surprisingly,  I earned my single worst shop class grade in the Electrical class.


Greg said...

I got a taste of electrocution when I was 13 or 14 once. It was then when I learned you should never plug in electronics when your hand is wet. Not a good combination.

Anonymous said...

We used to hit the cap gun rolls with a hammer, nothing as low-tech as a rock.

For some reason, the kids in my elementary school had a fascination with fingers. Once, while I was napping at my desk during recess, a small group of kids decided it would be fun to stick a pencil in my finger and run away. I still have the graphite mark to this day.

I don't know if it was the same group of kids, but some of them decided to drop one of those big heavy benches on another kid's finger.

I also remember a group of geniuses trying to lower a kid down from a treehouse by tying a string around his finger, with the obvious result occuring to the poor child.


Anonymous said...

Dark giggling....Ah well, I'm amazed I'm alive. When I was 10 my parents gave me a .22 for target practice... by the time I was 12 I had a 9mm hidden in my room. Both parents had substance abuse and mental issues. When they discovered the gun missing the conversation went something like this. My mom:"honey, have you seen the 9 mm? it's missing. Me: "Oh, I have it in my room" Mom:"OK as long as we know where it is."

I think back...:-) WTF..still the conversation got my step father to leave me alone.


Rich Samuels said...

That sort of puts new meaning to that quote from "Christmas Story," 'You'll shoot your eye out!'

Anonymous said...

A .22 at 10 years old? Sweet!

Sivin said...

Rich and Greg...

You mean to say you both learned about electricity that way? No other comment on this one!